Pumpkin Kibbeh (Bulgur Wheat Kabob)

Kibbeh is a popular Middle Eastern finger food made from ground meat, cracked bulgur wheat, and aromatic spices. Its outer crust is a mixture of meat, bulgur and spices and then filled with more meat to give a nice surprise when you take a bite. Traditionally it is deep fried and served as a side with garlic sauce, hummus or yogurt. Growing up in Michigan, one of my favorite things to look forward to was going to Dearborn (Arab Town) and ordering kibbeh for dinner with my family.

With Fall in the air and it being squash season, I figured why not bring my two favorite things to Florida; Autumn and Kibbeh. Clearly I'm not going to see the leaves change color, nor am I going to get Dearborn kibbeh anytime soon. So here's my take on an autumn inspired kibbeh with roasted pumpkin, warm cinnamon and baked to perfection.

I start by making homemade pumpkin puree. You can always use canned pumpkin puree and skip this step but I LOVE homemade puree and use it in smoothies, desserts, and even for my little one who eats it with a spoon. If you have a little one at home mix the puree with apple sauce and a little cinnamon and nutmeg...they will gobble it up in a minute.

Back to the puree. You want to use a small sugar pumpkin to make your puree. The big pumpkins don’t have much flavor and don’t give that delicious sweet taste that small sugar pumpkins give.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree:

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400'F.

  2. Carefully cut the pumpkin in half.

  3. Remove the stem and all the fiber and seeds (save the seeds and roast them for a snack later, optional).

  4. Roast the pumpkin in the oven on 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  5. When a knife goes through the pumpkin easily that means it’s ready.

  6. Let it cool then remove the skin by just peeling it right off.

  7. Then just puree it until it’s a fine consistency.

**The roasted pumpkin/puree can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for upto a week.

Now let's move onto the Kibbeh:

Kibbeh Ingredients:

Makes 12 to 15 Kibbeh or a 9x9 baking dish

Outer Crust:

  • ¼ cup Pumpkin Puree

  • ¾ lb. Lean Ground Beef

  • ¼ of a lg. Onion (Finely Chopped)

  • 1 tsp Arab 7 Spice

  • ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon

  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger

  • Salt ( To Taste)

  • ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 tsp Red Thai Chili Paste or Harissa

  • 1 cup Bulgur Wheat (Soaked for half hour, drained, ground)

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil

  • ½ Lemon (Juiced)

-Mix all the crust ingredients until well combined and set aside.

Filling:

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

  • ¼ lb. Lean Ground Beef

  • ¼ of a lg. Onion (Finely Chopped)

  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (Finely Chopped)

  • ¼ cup Frozen Chopped Spinach (Thawed, Drained)

  • Salt/Pepper (To Taste)

  • 1 tbsp Date / Pomegranate Molasses or Maple Syrup

  • ½ Lemon (Juiced)

  • 1 tsp Sumac

  • ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper

  • ¼ tsp Turmeric

  • ½ tsp Ground Cumin

  • ½ tsp Ground Coriander

  • Handful of Pomegranate Seeds (Optional)

  • Handful of Pine nuts (Optional)

  • Handful of Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

Method:

  1. In a sauté pan, sweat the onions and garlic until they are fragrant and translucent.

  2. Then add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the pomegranate and nuts.

  3. Brown the meat until it is cooked through and completely dry.

  4. If there is excess grease or liquid, strain it out so your filling is not wet.

  5. Wet filling equals soggy kibbeh.

  6. Remove from heat once the filling is cooked and toss in the nuts and pomegranates.

Assembly:

  1. To assemble, take 2 mini ice cream scoops of your outer crust and make a flat circle.

  2. Now add a tsp of the filling and close it up making an oval.

  3. Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet and pinch the 2 ends of the oval to make a football shape.

  4. Deep fry until golden brown.

To bake, follow the steps below:

  1. If you want to feed a crowd make a meatloaf or cake version by adding half the outer crust to a greased baking dish, then the filling, then the other half of the outer crust.

  2. Score it with a knife making square or diamond shapes.

  3. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).

  4. Whichever shape you choose, spray or brush the kibbeh liberally with oil and bake it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

  5. Then broil for an additional 5 minutes until the kibbeh is golden brown and cooked through

  6. Serve with a side of cranberry chutney or your favorite dipping sauce.

Notes:

  • I used whole bulgur wheat because that’s what I had on hand but you can use cracked if you have and avoid the step of grinding.

  • You want to take about a cup of your wheat and let it soak in water for at least a half hour. You will notice it become bigger in size.

  • After about a half hour you want to strain it and grind it in your food processor until it becomes fine.

  • Then add it to your meat, pumpkin and spice mixture and mix everything until well combined, then set it aside.

  • If you have excess oil or liquid drain it off because you want a dry filling so you’re not left with a wet, broken kibbeh.

  • You can use leftover meat of any kind as the filling if desired.

  • You can assemble and freeze them for a later date. Just remove from freezer, no need to defrost, just bake or fry!

And voila, Pumpkin Kibbeh! It only makes it feel more like Fall when you serve it my favorite way...with some cranberry chutney (recipe found here) or pomegranate glaze! Who's coming over?

Be sure to print the Recipe Printable to have your own season of Fall on a plate!

If you do give this recipe a try, be sure to tag me! I love seeing your remakes!

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